Protests have continued outside the UN compound for a second day, preventing UN officials from entering their office. According to UN sources “they are still limiting entry, but more quietly than yesterday.” The protesters are gathered, spurred by a call from Wimal Weerawansa, to protest the panel set up to advise Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon on possible violations of human rights and humanitarian law during the end of the war against the LTTE. The first day of protest was covered here, with photos. This post documents day two with photo and video.
On this day there were far less protesters than the hundreds yesterday. They numbered less than a hundred though they had occupied the main entry and exit points of the compound. One protester staging a sit-in on a small platform made the video statement above.
The government released a press release saying “The Government of Sri Lanka dealt with the protest outside the UN complex in Colombo today, in compliance with both domestic as well as international obligations. At the domestic level, Sri Lanka being a democratic society, the Government had to respect the entitlement to voice opinion, including through peaceful demonstrations.”
In other protests, however, including a recent planned protest in front of the University Grants Commission, the government has not hesitated to secure buildings with barricades and nearly hundreds of policemen. Despite being on a street with checkpoints and much security around the nearby home of the Defense Secretary, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, the government has chosen not to secure the UN compound.
Protest instigator and Housing Minister Wimal Weerawansa alleged that UN workers had bribed police to assault protesters (Daily Mirror). There was no proof provided for these allegations, however, and the protests appeared entirely peaceful.
These protests have been opposed by the UN, predictable. In Sri Lanka they have been opposed by the opposition UNP and the JHU, a member of the government coalition. Yesterday, National Freedom Front Politburo member Piyasiri Wijenayake told the Leader that the protest would ‘continue until the Panel was withdrawn’.